Christian Muslim Forum Dialogue on Blasphemy Laws

Dr Amna Nazir was invited by the Christian Muslim Forum, founded by the Archbishop of Canterbury, to act as a scholar consultant and speak on ‘Blasphemy and Freedom of Religion and Belief in Islamic Law’ to its board of trustees and members.

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Consultancy background

The Christian Muslim Forum is the leading national forum for Christian-Muslim engagement. It was established in 2006 by the Archbishop of Canterbury with the aim to bring together Muslims and Christians from a variety of denominations and traditions to work together for the common good. The Forum tackles the tough issues which divide communities, supports local church-mosque twinning, challenges anti-Muslim and anti-Christian prejudice, and stands together in solidarity in times of need.

As a noted scholar in the field of Islamic law and human rights, Dr Amna Nazir was invited by the Christian Muslim Forum to deliver a seminar on ‘Blasphemy and Freedom of Religion and Belief in Islamic Law’ to its Board of Trustees in December 2022. This included senior faith leaders such as Rt Revd Paul Hendricks, Rt Revd Martin Gorick Bishop of Dudley, Imam Qari Asim MBE and Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra.

The Forum has been exploring the implications of the challenges posed to the freedom of expression exercised by religious groups from 'cancel culture' and misplaced notions about blasphemy in contemporary society. The first seminar on this series was held with the Bishop of Worcester, Martin Gorick and Dr Damian Howard of the UK Society of Jesuits. To hear from leading Muslim voices on the subject, Dr Nazir was invited to lead the second seminar where she discussed the role of the Islamic legal tradition in the sphere of freedom of religion.

During the seminar, Dr Nazir spoke of her interdisciplinary work in this area from legal, theology and policy perspectives. The Forum deliberated the role of religious communities in promoting open communication, the better to express themselves freely and understand and appreciate the perspective of others, while recognising that current tendencies to negate difference can sometimes inhibit or limit how we communicate with others in the public sphere.

Dr Nazir has been invited to act as a scholar consultant for the Forum in order to foster further collaborations and provide her expertise on matters of law and religion, with particular reference to freedom of religion.

At BCU, Dr Nazir is Associate Director of the Centre for Human Rights, which regularly engages with the work of the United Nations, among other international bodies, and her work has frequently been cited by the United Nations Human Rights Council. She has also served as Course Director of the LLM International Human Rights Law programme.